6 Reasons Your FIRST Team Should Use Cloud-Native CAD

As a proud FIRST alumna and current mentor, I’ve seen how using CAD to design a robot can set a team up for success through the build season.

However, when I was a student, our school did not provide powerful devices needed to run traditional desktop CAD software. That meant only students that could afford their own devices to run CAD were able to use it, so CAD was often forgotten.

Fortunately, Onshape is a complete game-changer for FIRST teams. Here are the top 6 reasons your FIRST robotics team should use cloud-native CAD.

1. Onshape is Hardware Agnostic

Onshape runs completely in your web browser, just like Google Apps. There are no downloads, no installs, no upgrades. You simply sign up at Onshape for Education and you’re ready to go. Macs, PCs, Chromebooks, iPads, tablets – they all work with Onshape.


2. You Can Access Cloud-Based CAD Anywhere

Because Onshape runs within a browser, your CAD system and your CAD data go everywhere you go. Login from home or from the school’s computer lab, and pick up where you left off.

3. Cloud-Native CAD is Easy to Use

Onshape is a professional CAD system used by thousands of companies. But just because it’s extremely powerful, doesn’t mean that it’s hard to use. Teams find that learning Onshape is much easier than other CAD systems, and it has only gotten easier since the launch of our free Onshape Learning Center with its self-paced online courses.

4. The Cloud Lets Your Team Be Truly Collaborative

Onshape Documents can be shared with anyone and edited by multiple team members at the same time. People have called it the “Google Docs of CAD.” No hassling with files, lost data, overwritten work, etc.

5. There Are Plenty of Resources to Get Started

Onshape has built a community around 3D design, robotics, modeling and all things CAD. There are User Group meetings held every month on different topics, including subjects that interest educators and students alike. The Onshape Forum is active and if the call is made, users there are always up for a challenge. Onshape users in the FIRST community have made resources such as parts libraries and custom features to make getting started in Onshape even easier.

And we’ve provided the next steps to onboard your FIRST robotics team to Onshape. Take a look and see what your team is capable of creating.

6. Onshape Isn’t Just for CAD

The Onshape App Store offers many tools to help design teams achieve their goal. For example:

  • This app allows you to pin webpages inside of Onshape. You can now have a Google sheet with your gantt or the rules page right inside of your Onshape Document for easy access.

  • OneIPM can help your team manage your project and task management in Onshape. FIRST teams can access this tool for free here.

  • OnScale Solve is a cloud-based multi-physics simulation tool. This can be used to run structural analysis on parts and assemblies to ensure they will withstand the loads of competition.

  • There are also a number of CAM applications and connectors available for Onshape.

By using modern, cloud-native CAD, students everywhere will be able to focus on the fun parts of robotics — the designing, problem solving and creating — rather than being hindered by the technological limitations of their software.

Nobody wants to spend time during their short build season struggling with installs and upgrades, recovering data lost from crashes or juggling files between team members. Onshape enables all teams to use CAD, regardless of the resources available.


So what is Onshape all about? Subscribe, Share and check out this short clip.